Why am I even writing this post? Okay, so, the following meme has been making the rounds again:

I love the faux history angle, but this is not a thing. None of this is. Okay, back to basics.

Sappho (Σαπφώ) was a Hellenic lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos (Λέσβος) around 620 BC, although the exact date is unknown. She wrote beautiful and highly romantic poetry that comes and goes straight to the heart, and left behind a great volume of poems of which only one complete poem survives until today, along with substantial portions of six others. We know almost nothing about her and much of her work has been lost. It's by no means certain that Sappho was gay, or even bisexual.

As for broccoli, well, that is a topic I never thought I'd cover on my blog! The ancient Hellenes did know broccoli. Kind of.

The Greek words that we looked up as likely references to broccoli were krambē and rhaphanos, but they reffer to a large varity of cole. Descriptions of different types of krambē were reported by Euthydemus of Athens (probably II century BC), who listed in his Peri lachanōn [On vegetables] a smooth-leaved type which grows everywhere, a celery-like type which owes its name to the curliness of the leaves, and a maritime type. The locations where these grew are also mentioned, being on islands (Eretria, Kymi, Rhodes) or on the Anatolian coast (Knidos and Ephesus). There are actually plenty of literary references to broccoli, but none are by Saphho.

The abundance of references to coles in ancient Hellenic literature, including in fragments of comedies and poems, testify to familiarity with this crop. The coles appear as possibly ceremonial plants, used in oaths and exclamations, perhaps due to their healing properties. More likely, the word krambē was used to avoid swearing in the name of a God. Alternatively the invocation of krambē is interpreted as a parody in which very insignificant things like coles are represented as objects of worship ("By the krambē!").

Greek literature indicates that coles were a simple food, which was evidently very common and usually prepared boiled. Great emphasis was given to its medicinal properties. Among these, the alleged antidotal effect against drunkenness was popular knowledge, while physicians compiled systematic handbooks to record properties and preparations against all sorts of diseases.

So, that's more about broccoli in ancient Hellas than you ever wanted or needed to know--but now you know!